Skip to main content

Warning notification:Warning

Unfortunately, you are using an outdated browser. Please, upgrade your browser to improve your experience with HSE. The list of supported browsers:

  1. Chrome
  2. Edge
  3. FireFox
  4. Opera
  5. Safari

Find a birth position

You are ready to give birth when the neck of your womb (the cervix) is fully open (dilated) to 10cm. Your midwife or obstetrician will guide you through this part of labour.

different positions of baby within womb

Stages of labour

Practice different positions during your pregnancy and see what feels comfortable.

Being active during pregnancy, labour and birth is important. It helps you to cope better during labour and helps to progress your labour.

Different positions include:

  • standing - moving your hips from side to side or in a circular motion
  • kneeling
  • squatting
  • lying on your side - with a pillow between your knees
  • kneeling on all fours

Staying active during labour

Preparing your body for labour and birth

Birthing aids and equipment

Ask your maternity unit or hospital about birthing aids they have available.

These could include:

You can bring your own items if the hospital does not provide them. For example, your own birthing ball, an extra pillow, floats for birthing pools or a yoga mat.

Preparing a hospital bag for labour and birth

Birthing pools

If you are labouring or giving birth in water, you should also try different positions and change them.

They can include:

  • kneeling, leaning over the side of the pool
  • squatting, holding the sides of the pool
  • using floats under your arms for support
  • floating on your back with your hands holding the sides and your head supported on a waterproof pillow
  • floating on your tummy with your head turned sideways, resting on a pillow

During early labour you will need to exit the pool regularly to use the toilet and other birthing aids. Continue to drink fluids and eat light snacks. Your midwife will guide and support you.

Make sure you bring flip-flops, extra towels and a dressing gown. Some women listen to music or use hypnobirthing techniques while in the pool.

Page last reviewed: 4 January 2023
Next review due: 4 January 2026